Hi all. Here’s how I see baseball on this Sunday, August 28.
In the movie “Spinal Tap,” one of the characters said about his sound system “It goes to 11,” where on most sound systems the meter stops at 10. Well, for Gary Sanchez the meter doesn’t stop at 11. and in his own way 11 was special for the Red Sox’ Dustin Pedroia. For Sanchez, the Yankees’ megaprospect until his August promotion, the story is the long ball. Nobody has gotten to 11 home runs as fast as he in a burgeoning career. He has only played 23 games. His 24th will begin just after the early edition of this piece goes to press, to give his fans time to get to their radios, TVs or computers to hear what might happen. His 11th bomb brought about his first curtain call at Yankee Stadium as the Yanks buried the Orioles for the second day in a row, 13-5 this time after a 14-4 shellacking on Friday night. He had another hit and two walks to go with the home run that he belted off Dylan Bundy. A few more of those and he might be the next Bundy to consider a career selling shoes. Sanchez has also thrown out an insane 6 of 9 guys trying to steal a base on him. He’s in second place behind a Yankee icon in two other categories. He has 21 RBIs, tying him with Hideke Matsui. Only Joe DiMaggio had more, with 25. DiMaggio also had 42 hits in his first 23 games, Sanchez has 32 good for second. ESPN, showing typical inflexibility hasn’t moved the Yankees game to its Sunday night slot or decided to televise the early game to capitalize on the story that is Sanchez. Instead, they will show the Red Sox and Royals.
In Boston, Dustin Pedroia came within a base knock of making his own bit of history. He had 11 hits in 11 atbats plus a walk until grounding into a double play against the Royals. Had he made 12 he would have tied 3 players, the most modern of which was Walt Dropo of the Tigers in 1952. Another man with a dozen hits in as many trips was a member of the Old Town Team, Pinky Higgins of the 1938 Red Sox. The streak for the little second baseman began with 3 hits in Thursday night’s loss in St. Petersburg. When the team returned to Fenway he put up 4 hits Friday night, then 3 singles and a double before grounding into a DP in the 8th. While the players were aware of what Pedroia was up to, they acted like they would when a pitcher is throwing a no-hitter or a perfecto. They didn’t say a word about it for fear of putting the whammy on their beloved teammate.
in Williamsport, the Little League team from just outside Binghamton, New York will face South Korea in the final game of the Little League World Series. South Korea defeated Panama to get to the title game, while the New York team beat Goodlettsville, Tennessee 4-2. It was 4-0 New York following a 4-run 4th but Tennessee put up a two-run home run in the sixth and final inning before falling short.
Before we get into today’s birthdays, Gary Sanchez hit one right on the screws to center field, what insiders call an “Atom ball” because it was right at the O’s center fielder in the first inning today. Meantime, Tampa Bay pitcher Matt Andriese is 27 today. He was a third-round draft choice by the Padres in 2011 from the U.C.Riverside Highlanders. his only time in MLB has been with the Rays. He’s built a 9-9 mark with them since his debut in 2015.
Oakland closer Ryan Madson is 36. His uncle Steve Barr had been in the minors with the Red Sox and Rangers between 1969 and 1975 but he never reached the majors. Ryan made his mark in the bigs with the Phillies. They took him in the 9th round in 1998 out of high school and he got his first big league time at the tag end of the 2003 season. I remember him working in the South Atlantic League while we were with the Charleston RiverDogs. He was briefly a starter early on and has put up a 52-36 record, a rarity for most relief men. His Phillies won the 2008 World Series over Tampa Bay. He was with the Phillies through 2011, then didn’t throw a pitch in the bigs until the Royals claimed him in 2015. He had Tommy John surgery in early 2012, leading to the prolonged inactivity. After the Royals won the World Series he joined Oakland as their closer.
Meantime in the Bronx, Gary Sanchez has singled on his second atbat of a scoreless game with the Orioles.
The little lefty the Yankees called “Lou’siana Lightning” Ron Guidry is 66 today. The Lafayette, Louisiana native was the Yankees’ third-round choice in the 1971 draft, made the show in 1975 and started turning the American League on its ear in 1978. before he was through he had a record of 170-91. He was an All-Star 4 times and had been part of two World Series winners in 1977 and 1978, when he won the Cy Young award. He was 25-3 that year with a 1.74 ERA. Notably all 3 losses were to lefties named Mike: Caldwell of the Brewers, Flanagan of the Orioles and Willis of the expansion Blue Jays in a late September game. The Gator, as Guidry was also known struck out 18 Angels in a game on June 17, the day the crowd at Yankee Stadium supposedly began the ritual of clapping with two strikes on a hitter he was facing. Now, Yankee Stadium is far from the only stadium where rhythmic applause can be heard when a pitcher has two strikes on his foe. He started and won the AL East playoff game against the Red Sox. His mound opponent that day, Mike Torrez also has a birthday today. He and Guidry had been teammates in 1977. Besides playing his entire career in the Bronx Guidry briefly was their pitching coach.
As mentioned above, Mike Torrez has his birthday today. The Topeka native is 70. Unlike the five-eleven and 160-pound Guidry, Torrez looked like the classical pitcher then and now-six feet five, 210 pounds. While he’s only 4 years older he got to the bigs 8 years earlier than Guidry did-in 1967. There was no draft so he was signed by the cardinals in September, 1964 without the draft restrictions that would come in 1965. He lasted until 1984 and put up a more-than-respectable 185-160 record. He won 16 in 1972 and 15 in 1974 for the Montrreal Expos-and that was a job that took a lot of doing. He won 20 for the 1975 Orioles who lost the East only because of the Red Sox having the year of their lives. He won another 16 in Oakland the next year with a team that was falling apart. He won 2 World Series games and caught the last out of game 6 of the 1977 Series against the Dodgers. With free agency now possible he joined Boston, where he won 16. But mention his name from Connecticut to Quebec and all you’ll hear is “Bucky Dent,” and some words I can’t write in English or French in a family blog. Dent hit a 3-run shot into the screen in left field in the 7th inning to turn the momentum of the playoff game on Oct. 2.
Another man who played in that game, Lou Piniella is 73 today. He was a rookie at 25 going nowhere with the Seattle Pilots in 1969 when he got the break of his life. He was traded to the other expansion team in the division, the Kansas City Royals for whom he took the league’s Rookie of the Year award. In a nice piece of irony he would come back and spend 10 years managing the Seattle Mariners starting in 1993. Incredibly he had gotten his first sip of MLB coffee in 1964 with the Orioles but was still considered a rookie 5 years later. In a career that ran through 1984 he hit .291. After 5 years with the Royals he spend his last decade playing for the Yankees. He was manager of the year 3 times-twice with the Mariners, once with the Cubs. He won a World Series managing the Reds in 1990. He has served a couple of stints on TV for the Yankees and covered a playoff series for Fox which got his partner Steve Lyons fired. The two had been joking but the Fox people didn’t see it as funny. His book “Sweet Lou” made it clear that he felt the plane Thurman Munson was killed in was more airplane than Munson could handle. The nickname ‘sweet Lou,” was initially meant for his sweet swing as a hitter, and later became a joke about his temper with umpires and very occasionally the media.
Longtime player and Manager Charlie Grimm was born this day in 1898 and died in 1983. As a player he lasted 20 years and had nearly 2300 hits with a .290 average. He did most of his playing and managing with the Cubs, for whom he began as player-manager in 1932. He managed in Milwaukee from 1953-56 and left a year before the Braves won the only World Series they would win before moving to Atlanta. His nickname was “Jolly Cholly.” This was partially because of the way New Yorkers tended to say the name “Charlie” in the early years of the last century. It was also partly because of his outgoing nature and tendency to play the banjo and sing during interminable train trips that were common in baseball before teams began to fly.